Staff Picks

January 2018 Picks

Ethos recommends:

Baking with Kafka by Tom Gauld

Baking with Kafka is a collection of single-page comics giving a fun satire on the literary world.

Tom Gauld presents comically exaggerated descriptions revolving around various topics. Similar to that of an everyday newspaper comic strip, with a more deadpan sense of humor.

Overall a delightful, short read for The New Yorker fans, and those looking for a good intellectual laugh.

Kim recommends:

Presents Through the Window by Taro Gomi is about Santa bringing presents to the wrong animals and people but everything working out OK.  The silly humor, guessing game aspect, and lesson about sharing make this a good read at other times besides Christmas.


Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do by Daisy Hirst is a sweet but prickly and very funny look at two monster siblings who learn to get along.



Carole recommends:

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right? But See how these three friends work it out and win.

Amie recommends:

A Newfoundlander in Canada by Alan Doyle (coming soon to a library near you)

In honor of my Doyle-a-thon this month, I recommend Alan’s sophomore book. Alan Doyle is the former lead singer of Great Big Sea and my most favoritest of all things not related to me. If you don’t know of Mr. Doyle, this book is a great treat, taking you on tour with the boys, and if you do know Mr. Doyle, well, there you go. You will love it, and you will love him. Maybe enough to join us on part of the tour.


Peggy recommends:

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

An epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing journeys through Mississippi’s past and present, examining the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power–and limitations–of family bonds. This new work by the author of the award-winning, Salvage the Bones, is an unforgettable family story.


Bruce’s Big Move by Ryan T. Higgins

A bear, 4 goslings, 3 mice and a tiny house do not make a good living arrangement so grumpy Bruce Bear and his extended family start looking for a bigger house. This is an adorable follow-up to my other favorites “Mother Bruce” and “Hotel Bruce” by the same author.

Dan recommends:

Read and Think Critically

A review by Dan Hess, Branch Librarian

The Big Lie by Dinesh D’souza

The Pen is mightier than the Circus Knife. “In this book, I turn the tables on the Democratic Left and show that they — not Trump — are the real fascists. They are the ones who use Nazi bullying techniques and intimidation tactics and subscribe to a full-blown fascist ideology.” Quoth the circus knife-thrower, Dinesh D’souza, in The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left.

Shrieks and gasps from the audience. They love the drum rolls, the “hyper-partisan takedown” (Adam Howard), straw men pinned up against the wall of political history. The Big Lie aims rubber knives at various Democrats to show how they have kept Fascism alive in America all these years while Republicans have held Fascism in check. Slick operators from Herbert Marcuse to George Soros have duped us to accept their fascist worldview.

History is composed of facts; polemic is full of opinions and ad hominem attacks. The Big Lie is a reactionary polemic by a right-wing showman. US News Reviewer, Nicole Hemmer, writes, “D’Souza was a Conman in search of a mark….” Paul Gottlieb writes in The American Conservative, There are still many respectable historical works that are produced by scholars identified…with the American right. But there is also a plague of genuinely ridiculous writings on historical subjects coming from conservative media celebrities that surpass in their arrogant stupidity almost anything I’ve encountered in professional journals.”

How arrogant, you ask? How stupid? Democrats Andrew Jackson and Barack Obama–poles apart in any grade school history book–are tied together by their populist strategy to manipulate the People’s rage and discontent into voting “Democrat.” Other “Fascists” are brought to the stage. The Liberal pessimist, Herbert Marcuse, and Neoliberal financier, George Soros “collection boy for Hitler” become another odd pair skewered by D’Souza! Absent is the Left familiar to most Americans. Emma Lazarus (and my grandma) would say, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” D’Souza defends his legions of law-abiding Americans against imagined thugs who threaten censorship, intolerance, and political correctness.

“Damn, I got caught!” D’Souza’s showmanship falls flat when one looks at the FACTS of his own life. “In May 2014, D’Souza pleaded guilty to one felony count of making illegal campaign contributions in the names of others. In September 2014, the court sentenced D’Souza to five years probation, eight months in a halfway house (referred to as a “community confinement center”) and a $30,000 fine.” He had his daily coffee in a La Jolla cafe then hustled to do nightly penance in a correctional center bunk-bed. His outpatient treatment allowed him ample time to dream up The Big Lie. Some gulag Obama sentenced him to! Some Concentration Camp these latter-day Fascists invented for their snotty Dartmouth grad, aka political prisoner.

Was this knife-throwing act worth the $15 admission price, the cost of putting this book on the library shelf? The giant lie that lets such books get published is that history is entertainment. Nothing really Happens. Leftists were and still are in a worldwide Fascist Conspiracy to victimize the Right. Even though the heaps of suitcases left by the tracks of Auschwitz belonged to people who believed in pluralistic, democratic principles. Even though countless political prisoners died in Hitler’s Death Camps, turned in by Nazi sympathizers for their Leftist views or arrested for armed resistance against the Fascist Right. That’s history, folks, and the knives were real.

Read The Big Lie and think critically then compare it to:

Conscience of a Conservative: a rejection of destructive politics and a return to principle by Jeff Flake

From the Publisher: Republican Senator Jeff Flake takes his party to task for embracing nationalism, populism, xenophobia, and the anomalous Trump presidency. The book is an urgent call for a return to bedrock conservative principle and a cry to once again put country before party.


Valerie recommends:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

A science fiction classic set in a dystopian society dominated by patriarchal, Christian fanaticism. The story follows a young woman named Offred who is struggling to survive. She questions if she will ever escape the horrors of her new life, but she refuses to let the memory of her old life and loved ones to be taken from her. There is a film adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale that was released in the 1990s. However, The Handmaid’s Tale was recently adapted to a television series that won 2018 Golden Globe awards for Best Drama TV Series and Best Actress in a Drama TV Series. The television series was exceptional and I recommend watching it if you have the chance. Unfortunately, the DVD version of the television series has not been released yet.


Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

Tulip Fever is a dramatic romance set in 17th century Amsterdam when the tulip market becomes extremely lucrative. Sophia is a 24-year-old woman who has been freed from poverty by her wealthy, Catholic husband, Cornelis. Several factors, including their major age difference, have made it impossible for Sophia to be happy. However, Cornelis commissions a family portrait by a local artist named Jan. A romance begins that inextricably alters the lives of everyone in the household. Tulip Fever was recently adapted to a film starring Christoph Waltz and Alicia Vikander. The DVD is available through the library.

Jen recommends:

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

World-renowned midwife Ina May explores the feats of childbirth and helps women shed the fear of the unknown. This book is full of useful, but forgotten, information for labor, birthing, postpartum care and so much more. I enjoyed her realistic approach and attitude towards childbirth and the encouraging birth stories she chose to include.


John recommends:

An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson 

This novel takes place during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  Between an antique Thunderbird named Lola and a couple of antique motorcycles, how can you go wrong?  What starts out to be an apparent hit and run accident turns into something much more complicated.  Engaging, too.


2017 Staff Picks

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2015 Staff Picks